The Florence Dome is fruit of the work done by various artists over the course of six centuries. It was designed at the end of 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio while the cupola, a symbol of Tuscany and the city of Florence, was created by Filippo Brunelleschi, renowned artist of the Renaissance period.
The seat of the bishopric, this Cathedral was third and last to be finished in Florence in 1412 and given the name Santa Maria del Fiore or “Holy Mary of the Flower”.
In 1293, the Florentine Republic decided to substitute the preexisting cathedral of Santa Reparata, the site on which the new Cathedral was built, with one more sumptuous and therefore obligated the citizens to bequeath a sum for the building of the new Duomo. Arnolfo di Cambio worked on the project for 6 years from 1296 to 1302, the year he died. Not withstanding that the trend at the time was Gothic, Arnolfo conceived the Basilica with 3 naves that joined the main altar, the two bays and the new façade. Thirty years after Arnolfo’s death in 1334, Giotto was named to oversee further construction but died shortly after in 1337.
After him, Andrea Pisano, author of the south door of the Baptistery, continued up until 1348 the year of the great plague that cut the population in half 90,000 to 45,000. The Bell tower was finally completed in 1359 after 10 years of work overseen by Francesco Talenti. From 1349 to 1359, the work passed on to Franco Talenti who completed the bell tower and designed a new project; the central nave was divided into four bays, while the two laterals were made rectangular. In 1360, a new project was begun with the collaboration of Giovanni di Lapo Ghini. The project saw the division of the center nave into foursquare bays, with fewer windows than the original designed by Arnolfo, and with two lateral bays. Around 1370, construction was nearly finished and the project of the apse was at a good point. Finally, in 1375, Santa Reparata was completely torn down and the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore was ready to be the new cathedral of Florence. Remains from Santa Reparata can still be seen today in the archaeological area under the Duomo. Enriching the history of this monument was a series of both exterior and interior interventions both decorative and structural.
The two sacristies were done early in the 16th century with pavements in marble and decorated with sculptures and frescoes done by Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno, Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari (the Last Judgement in the cupola) and the facade that completed this magnificent work of architecture dates back to 1800. The sculptures that were found on the old façade, some of Arnolfo himself, were dismantled and transferred to the Museum of the Opera inside the Duomo.